Sheila Steptoe - Author of the autobiographical "Before I Get Old and Wrinkly
Sheila wrote regularly for the magazine Healthy Life – Mind, Body & Soul. Readers loved her straightforward advice – and the way she always seemed to be sitting having a quiet chat with you. She now gives inspirational talks and workshops all over the country, sharing her spiritual journey and helping others find inner peace, more purpose and meaning to their lives.
These are the articles and columns she has written specially for Healthy Life.
FINDING INNER PEACE. Sheila always says she is just an ordinary women, mother of two and grandmother to three. Several years ago she found her own life suddenly in total turmoil. Then she wrote ‘Before I Get Old and Wrinkly’ and this was the catalyst she needed to find her own inner peace.
THE POWER OF THE MIND. Sheila strongly believes that you need to understand the power of the mind if you really want to change your life.
WRITING A BOOK. Have you ever wanted to write a book? Sheila provides some tips.
GETTING A BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR PARTNER. Sheila gives a short exercise that might bring a sparkle back to your relationship.
BRING A SPARKLE BACK INTO YOUR EYES. Sheila shows some ways to put some excitement and more fun in to our lives to cheer us up when faced with the winter blues (or at any time!).
A SAYING ABOUT MONEY – Sheila wisely included this anonymous poem to remind us about our values.
GRANDPARENTS AND GRANDCHILDREN – ENJOYING EACH OTHER. Sheila was devastated when she was not allowed contact with her granddaughter. She is now a volunteer on the help line of the Grandparents Association.
MAGIC OF BELIEVING. When you believe that you can, then you will.
AMAZE YOURSELF. There are no obstacles in life – just challenges.
CHANGE! IS IT ALWAYS PROGRESS? Sometimes we need to speak up, loud and clear and make our voices heard.
I am not rich and famous, just an ordinary woman, mother of two and a grandmother to three. There are so many joys of parenthood but there are also pitfalls. I have found many of both. There is no school for parenting! A few years ago my own life was in absolute turmoil. Then I wrote “BEFORE I GET OLD AND WRINKLY”
This is my story and is written as a letter to my children explaining who I am, and how I learnt to find peace within myself amongst the incredible turbulence of a succession of traumas and heartbreak. Written with passion, honesty and love, I hope it will inspire.
It is written to help anyone who is on the brink of questioning the quality of their own lives, and I convey the importance of getting to know our friends and family properly, instead of taking their presence for granted, which in turn will lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves. The ultimate message is a deeply positive one about learning to forgive, patience and above all awakening. This has been my journey of self-discovery.
I took a big chance when I followed my instincts to take that journey – to write my book. It was something I had thought about for a long time, since my own parents died many years previously and I realised I did not really know them as people. Fortunately, when my life was at its lowest ebb, my own life coach training and a number of very special personal experiences gave me the strength I needed. And so I wrote the book, I lived the dream, and it has made me feel so really alive again. It has given me passion, excitement, a new purpose, a new interest and it is the next stage of my life. I am at peace with myself, and what a wonderful place that is.
I would like to help you find that inner peace.
One of the first steps is to understand something so incredibly profound - the Power of the Mind.
Do you know that you can actually change your life by changing the way you think? Our thoughts are what we make them and we can think positively or negatively about any situation that we may find ourselves in. If we train our minds to produce positive thoughts, then we can achieve what we want in life. But only you can change the way you think and feel and act, as you are the one with the Power. You are in charge of your own life, and you are in charge of what you get from life.
One simple example is the word CAN’T. Hey, firstly there is no such word in the English Dictionary and secondly YOU CAN. You can achieve anything that you want to if you desire it, work at it, dream it and never give up. Yes you may fail sometimes, but learn from it and try again. Why not take that chance and write a list of ways you could achieve something you really want. At the bottom, add some words to describe how you will FEEL when you have achieved it. It will make you feel good.
Writing a book is something I have often thought about myself, but I have no idea how to go about it. Can you give me any tips?
My best tip to you is just to go for it and write from the heart. Let the words and your thoughts and ideas just flow. Don’t worry about spelling, text or grammar, as this can all be done after your written words are on paper (or computer as the case may be). You can then get yourself a good Editor who will correct these.
If you really believe in your work, a good publisher will too but you will need to do your homework and find one that you feel comfortable with. Even self publishing is an option and not expensive, but the feeling you will have when you see your word in print and in your hands is worth all the time and effort you will have put in. Go for it.
How can I get a better relationship with my partner as we never seem to talk?
An exercise I have on page 119 of my book is a very powerful one, where I suggest both of you, over a period of a week, make your own separate lists of 5-10 things you want from the relationship, and the things that have changed over the years. Then highlight the qualities of your partner that you love, and then make some quality time where you can sit down together to share them. By bringing out what you both want, and listening to each other, can help resolve some of the issues but don’t forget to really listen to each other. It also shows you care, which can be something you may have both forgotten.
- Help someone once a day – it will bring a smile to their face and a pleasure to you.
- Smile more often – notice yourself when you smile and are happy.
- Do something spontaneous and give someone a lovely surprise.
- Compliment someone – and just say ‘thank you’ when you are given a compliment.
- Laugh often – even over silly things.
- Give someone a hug.
- Say those three little words to your nearest and dearest – they cannot read your mind!
- Make some precious time for yourself at least once a day/week.
- Do an activity once a week like sing (even in the bath) dance, listen to music etc.
- Spend one hour a day really talking and listening to someone (hard for some).
- Make time for each other – it is not so difficult and worth so much.
- Share your meals around a table with the family as often as you can.
- Make a commitment to have friends round for dinner one night a week.
- Explore nature – the woods, rivers, ponds and plants – take a walk.
- Shout to others about something good you have done or achieved.
- Praise others more – especially children.
- Make that phone call – it only takes a few minutes.
- Count your blessings and appreciate what you have – they may disappear one day!
- Don’t say ‘When I have….’ – why would this make you happy?
- Happiness comes from within – not material possessions.
It can buy a house – but not a home
It can buy a clock – but not time
It can buy you a position – but not respect
It can buy you a bed – but not sleep
It can buy you medicine – but not health
It can buy you a book – but not knowledge
It can buy you acquaintances – but never friends
It can buy you blood – but not life
It can buy you sex – but not love
I want to share with you three little words that I came across recently which really are very powerful when strung together. There are actually only 16 letters in the whole saying but they are such powerful words because they become a positive statement or thought. You can transform your life if you start saying them to yourself over and over again, because your belief will then turn into magic as you make something happen. If you believe strongly enough that something will happen then it will.
By believing that you can achieve something, you are actually turning your thoughts into positive words, and they become meaningful to you. This will inspire you to get up and do something and all of a sudden you will have a passion. This passion will then spur you on and you will suddenly start to feel really alive in the true sense of the word.
These words will create excitement but you may have this nervousness about you because your mind is so excited about what you want to do. All sorts of ideas will pop into your head about the way forward. Sometimes you may have to ignore the parrot that may be sitting on your shoulder trying to block your inspirations by saying ‘no’ to the ifs and buts that may creep in. They will disappear if your belief is strong enough, and you can then achieve what ever you set out to do. You can turn those words into ‘I can’ or ‘I will’
This belief can be a change in your circumstance or situation, a change in you, a change in following a dream or just achieving or changing something simple. Often if we start to change something simple it has a ripple effect and bigger things alter. Each of us has different wants and needs but only we ourselves know what they are and only we can achieve or change them ourselves. No one else can do this for us. We may have to work hard at it, or it may take time, but it will be worth the effort.
The word ‘magic’ on its own has a different meaning but strung together with others, creates and becomes magical or magnetic which you will also become because you will have created your own magic! Your face will suddenly light up as the beauty of your inspiration suddenly shines through and the smiles appear. You will start to draw positive things to you, your thoughts will become positive, and you will run high on the energy and satisfaction that you will get. A whole new chapter in your life will open.
If you can start to say those three little words to yourself as often as you can or change the words just to ‘belief’ if you prefer, then I think you will find that you will start saying that you have a wonderful belief in yourself as well.
We can all achieve miracles if we want to. When you believe that you can then you will. That is what people mean when they say turn negative thoughts into positive ones because they really can achieve magic. Try it and see.
Do you ever stop and think about all the possibilities there are in your life? Because there are no limits… only we limit ourselves. There are no obstacles in life – only challenges!
If we don’t limit ourselves we can achieve almost anything but we have to have the right attitude, mind set, and determination and then we can climb mountains. Obstacles and doubt can get in the way but we can overcome them. It is how we feel and think that is important.
It takes time but we all have the ability to set and reach our goals and sometimes we inspire others. Even if you do not intentionally set out to inspire someone else, it happens naturally as you achieve your own success. Success does not have to be something amazing, because achieving something small by doing something well or overcoming an obstacle are just as important. Success to everyone is different and other people may admire something in you and think you are successful just as you admire others. It is how you achieve your own inner personal success which is the most important. Being kind, sharing your knowledge and time, how you speak to others, giving without the need to receive is all part of being successful because that is when you have inner love and can climb your mountain.
Don’t regret anything, be jealous of anyone, or be frightened. Take all the challenges that come your way and you will amaze yourself. You will feel happier than you ever thought possible. You will also have inspired others by your achievements however big or small they may be.
Change in anyone’s life is inevitable. In all areas of our life, changes happen all the time as nothing stands still. That’s one thing we can be certain of. We can embrace it or fight against it – it’s up to us.
Personal change is often a positive experience as new doors can open to new opportunities. Sometimes change is out of our control and can be a life changing experience, but what about change in our environment - because it is not always a positive experience?
Governments, planners and politicians say change and growth is necessary. Developers would agree but aren’t there always two sides to an opinion? Thankfully they always ask us but do they listen to us? Well it seems they do. Stansted Airport is a good example: although it seems that expansion will still take place, it will now be on a much smaller scale. And the Government is now asking us not to take so many holidays because of climate warming!
Now apparently, new roads and massive housing is needed all over Essex. Are we willing to let our beautiful countryside be changed for ever?
Are we prepared to sit back and watch events unfold before our eyes? We cannot change these things back. And yet there will be plenty of people, who will have made absolutely no attempt to make their opinion heard, who will complain long after the event is over. Let’s only change things which we will not regret. Let’s speak up, load and clear and make our voices heard. It does make a difference!
Many people may not realise how powerful this headline is, but others will. They are people who have created a life which is positive, successful and full of joy. We do actually create things in our lives by the thoughts that we have. They may be positive or negative but we actually create them ourselves, and therefore create our own lives!
The universe will actually respond and bring what ever we think about into our lives. That works both for positive and also negative experiences and thoughts. If we can create a mind set to turn a negative thought or experience around into a positive outcome, then we can change our path. This can sometimes be hard but a good way is to imagine something that you want, visualise yourself actually in that situation, and notice how you feel. Create a mental image of your happiness, have the sun shining in the background and try to smell the fresh air blowing in the wind.
Thoughts are like habits and we can get rid of bad ones. A new habit can be created if we do something for 21 continuous days. If we really want something, we create a passion. When we create a passion, it is so much easier to think positively. But we also have to feel the emotion.